26 September, 2009

Southport, CT

For those of you at home who aren't likely to see this in person, these are photos of the town where I work. Southport used to be populated by wealthy ship captains with big, expensive houses and all the things that go with that lifestyle. Today it's pretty much just populated by other well-to-do people.

This is, in my opinion, the prettier of the two churches.

In many ways this is a pretty typical house here. It's one of the larger ones, but it reflects the nice landscaping, the love of natural shingle roofs, and the bizarre attachment to white paint that exists in Southport.

These are two views of the harbour. It's a very pretty area, and a lot of people take lunch in the adjacent park space when the weather is nice.

Shade vs. smoked turkey leg

Shade loves food, particularly meat and cheese. Chewbacca is a tad more picky (see lack of enthusiasm in photo below).
Sometimes Shade is a little unsure of strange new things, but we weren't really surprised when he decided that he wanted to eat Banik's turkey leg.

Yes, he did get to eat some of it.

Chewbacca will do Anything to look out a window

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

So I was reading Popular Science and read about a website called shop4freebies, and since many of the best things in life are free I was obligated to go look at this website. Aside from "yes, I would love for you to send me a free sample" type things they also have recipe books that you can download or ask to have mailed to you for free. One booklet I skimmed was for Sun-maid raisin recipes, and that resulted in:

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (24)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix in a small bowl:
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix in a large bowl:
1 c. brown sugar
6 Tbsp. nonfat vanilla yogurt
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Add the dry mix to the wet and stir until well combined.

Stir in:
1 1/3 c. uncooked rolled oats
1 c. raisins

Drop rounded spoonfuls of dough onto a cookie sheet about 1.5" apart. You should get about 24 cookies. *

Bake 11-13 minutes or until lightly browned. **

Immediately remove with a spatula and transfer to a cooking rack or plate. If you wait they will be harder to get off of the tray. ***


* I used 2 half sheet pans with a 3x4 layout, and the amount of cookie dough worked out perfectly for 24 cookies.

** Doneness is admittedly hard to determine since the brown sugar and wheat flour make the cookies so dark. I look for the cookies to be matte instead of glossy on top and for resiliance when I poke them.

*** To make your life easier you could lightly grease the sheet with butter to make the cookies easier to remove. You could also use a silpat that you can just lift off and move to the counter, the cookies will easily peel off once cooled and set.
Feedback: As a first attempt these are quite tasty. I think they have good flavor and texture. Banik finds the cookies to be a bit too sweet. Since we tend to like less sweet foods I may try using half brown and half white sugar next time to see if that helps. They must be decent though- he's already eaten 4 of them.

06 September, 2009

Tomato, Basil, & Mozzarella Salad

Happiness is an heirloom tomato from the farmers market, mozzarrella from Stew Leonard's, basil picked from my own plants, and some basalmic vinegar.
For those who prefer it, some salt and good olive oil would also be nice.

Next year I'm hoping the tomatoes will be from the garden, too.

05 September, 2009

The Victory Garden

We ran across the Victory Garden on PBS this morning. It's a show that I enjoyed many years ago, and suddenly it's a lot more useful since I'm closer to having my own garden than I was a decade ago. I always watch and say "oh, that's a great idea" or "I want to grow that" so I figured that if I wanted to remember anything I should take notes somewhere.

Today I learned about the "three sisters" method of gardening wherein corn is planted first, then beans are planted at the base of the corn stalk, and then winter squash is planted all around. The corn is the structure for the beans to grow up, the beans are the nitrogen fixer for the corn, and the squash is a living mulch for the whole planting bed. It's really quite elegant.

They discussed the idea of extending the useful life of summer produce without canning or freezing. Slicing thin and then dehydrating makes chips that can be used with dip later, or slightly larger pieces can be used in soup.

They also visited the Herb Lyceum at Gilson's in Groton, MA, and I found out about a bunch of herbs I'd like to have:

shiso, japanese basil (perilla frutescens cv.) zones 8-11
It's unrelated to our basil, but has green or purple leaves that are used in Japan like Europeans use basil. It also has beautiful flowers, but they need to be cut off immediately if you don't want seeds and volunteers everywhere.

Thai/Kaffir lime leaf (citrus hystrix) zones 10-12
When introduced to a little heat the oils on the leaves create the flavour and aroma of fresh lime juice. Apparently the plants are a little difficult to come by.

lemon verbena (aloysia triphilla) zones 8-10
Good in a glass of water, many kinds of confections, or in herb butter. According to Banik's mother it's also quite resilient (read as, hard to kill even when you try).

nasturtium (nasturtium sp.) zones 6-10
This flower grows well in poor locations. It's related to watercress, and the leaves can be substituted for it. The flowers are edible as well.

mexican mint marigold (tagetes lucida) zones 9-11
Looks like a pretty flower, tastes like tarragon.

english lavender (lavandula angustifolia) zones 5-9
Use it to make tea, then mix with cranberry juice and lemonade.

summer savory (satureja hortensis) zones 5-9
This is the common variety that everyone has.

creeping winter savory (satureja montana) zones 4-8
This variety grows easily and like a ground cover. It has lots of tiny white flowers in fall, and you might never guess that it's actually an herb.